Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda (File Photo)
Rebel Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader and former MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, who had quit the party last year reportedly after rifts with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, is likely to join the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday. According to media reports citing sources, Panda, a former BJD MP from Odisha’s Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat, will join the BJP in the presence of party president Amit Shah, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.
“The discussion was going on for the last 2-3 months. If any development has taken place, then the top central leadership would surely be aware. Baijayant would any day be asset for BJP,” The Hindustan Times quoted BJP national secretary Suresh Pujari as saying.
Panda, one of the prominent Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders, had quit the party in May 2018 following a long-standing rift with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is also the chief of the BJD.
In a three-page letter written to Patnaik, who is also the chief of BJD, Panda had said, “It’s with deep anguish, hurt and sorrow that I have decided to quit the politics into which our BJD has descended.”
“With the BJD and you yourself having made it abundantly clear that I am unwanted, it is only right to disassociate from it,” the 55-year-old leader said.
Panda’s decision to quit the party had come days after the party suspended his primary membership on accusations of “conflict of interest” and “anti-party activities” aimed at weakening BJD in Odisha.
Panda’s father Bansidhar Panda shared a very close relationship with former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik, the father of current Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik.